I don't know whether I should write this post. I feel numb over the events of the week. I feel compelled to express myself but at the same time I doubt whether it is right to publicly discuss my thoughts and feelings over what has unfolded when the events are so fresh. I'm a bystander, watching from a distance. I feel deep sympathy for all involved and I feel heartbroken, but I also cannot fathom the pain they are experiencing. At the same time, these events touch so many of us (even if we are not personally experiencing loss) and no matter how far removed you feel from the actual situation our feelings and fears are still valid. I don't believe in shoving things under a rug -- conversation and sharing are important for healing. So, despite my reservation, here goes. Not that I know exactly where I'm going ... I'm just writing.
For me right now, today's shooting is Newtown feels like the most devastating news event of my lifetime. I'm on the other side of the country, I don't have family or friends in the town, I've never witnessed anything even remotely similar. But when innocent children are at the epicenter of such a horrific crime ... well, there are no words. At the same time, there are so many.
My adorable five-year-old niece is in kindergarten. She's spunky, hilarious and bright. She loves science and animals, and she adores learning. She goes to a really excellent school in an upscale suburb ... a town not unlike Newtown. It could have been her school. It could have happened anywhere. It could happen to any of us. We would be naive to think that it couldn't.
The shooting at the mall drives that point home for me. Clackamas Town Center is 35 miles from my house. I have a friend who works at the mall, and other friends who live in the vicinity. The wife of one of my husband's co-workers almost went to the mall that day but decided against it at the last minute -- she and her young grandson could have easily been caught up in the mayhem. Thank God they stayed home. I never go to that mall, but it still feels close. What if the shooter had chosen Washington Square Mall instead? Then what? People I know and love might have died.
Right now, I don't want to take my baby girl anywhere. I want her safe at home, where I can best protect her from the dangers of the world. We had plans to go to the mall this week, but I just couldn't do it. And now I'm thinking about school. School is years away, but how can I send her away to a classroom day after day without thinking about December 14th, 2012? At the same time, we can't live in fear. We can't let fear control us. It isn't healthy.
I know that so many people want peace. I know I do. We hope and pray for a better world for our children. We want a world where children can go to school, where families can go to the mall, where everyone can go to a movie theater without the fear of a masked gunman opening fire. We want the violence to stop. But sadly, I do not think this is going to happen. I do not believe things are going to get better. I think they are going to get worse. I really do. We live in a broken world. Evil is real, and it is escalating.
I think the only thing we can do is to focus on what really matters. Our families and our children matter. God matters. We need to live with purpose, and we need to set aside our petty differences. And we need to be respectful of and compassionate toward those who are experiencing tragedy. We cannot stop living our lives, but we can take a step back from certain things. In time, I think it will be appropriate to get back to "normal" (whatever that is). But right now, for me anyway, it doesn't seem right to blog about what my baby girl is eating for breakfast or what my new workout goals are. And it definitely doesn't seem right to do the post I had planned for today (Friday). I have to admit that I got a little frustrated when I logged on to Twitter earlier ... how can anyone promote their products/services or complain about sore hamstrings on a day like this? Then again, some people cope by just ... going on. And I suppose that is OK. We are all different.
I haven't ever talked about my faith on this blog, but faith is a huge part of my life. I believe in Heaven and Hell and I believe that God is just. Years ago, my husband was very sick with a life-threatening illness and we had to have some very difficult conversations about the possibility of him not making it. Later on, people would ask him his thoughts on what to do if they ever found themselves in a similar situation. His advice? Get right with your maker. Because you just never know. You never know when you're going to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, and you never know when a routine trip to the mall or school is going to take a terrible turn. So take nothing for granted, especially eternity.